Cauliflower (Chou-fleur)

Some random facts about cauliflower in France, why French cuisine uses the term, ‘Dubarry‘, how to roast it, plus links to easy, healthy French cauliflower recipes.

cauliflowers in bowls at the French market

Cauliflower Seasons

Autumn; Winter; Spring (September – May)

French Cauliflower Facts

  • According to the French Ministry of Agriculture, 80% of cauliflowers are grown in Brittany, followed by Normandy (5%) and Nord-Pas-de-Calais (5%);
  • The cauliflower arrived in France at the Potager du Roi (under Louis XIV) thanks to his botanist, La Quintinie;
  • According to Aprifel, low in calories, the cauliflower is rich vitamin C and B9 plus it’s the most easily digested vegetable of the cabbage family;
  • Cauliflowers also exist in green, orange and purple colours (Graffiti) and are completely natural (not fake at all!). Purple cauliflowers are higher in antioxidants than regular white cauliflower and its natural purple colour comes from anthocyanin, which is found in both red wine and red cabbage;
  • In French cuisine, anything titled Du Barry refers to a cauliflower dish, named after Louis XV’s last mistress, Madame du Barry. See recipe for Crème duBarry for more details;
  • How to choose: to pick the freshest, always pick one with leaves. Those with more leaves around the white head (pomme) will help conserve the vegetable longer;
  • Storage: keep in the fridge and consume as soon as possible.
  • Eaten raw as French crudités with dips, or cooked and served cold in salads. Served cooked and warm in soups and gratins. We love to roast cauliflower – see below.

Cauliflower Varieties

  • White
  • Orange, Green or Violet
  • Romanesco
  • Mini Cauliflowers

cauliflower florets spread out on roasting tray

Roasted Cauliflower

This is perhaps the easiest, most tasty and versatile way of cooking cauliflower.

To roast, simply cut off the outer leaves (head or pomme) and wash under running water. Cut off florets and, using your fingers, break them up further into little bite-sized pieces. Spread out in a single layer on a roasting tray or baking sheet, dribble over some olive oil, add a few grinds of the salt and pepper mill and sprinkle with spices and seeds of your choice.  Add chopped fresh herbs to serve. Here are some of our family favourites:

  • French versatile: sesame seeds, coriander seeds (they’re not spicy but give off a lemon flavour), turmeric, whole garlic cloves. Serve with fresh parsley;
  • French exotic: caraway seeds (carvi), 4 spices (quatre-épices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger), fresh parsley;
  • Indian: cumin seeds, turmeric, coriander seeds, ground garam masala, pinch cayenne powder, fresh coriander/cilantro;

Roast in the oven at 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/Gas 7 for 25-30 minutes, or until slightly singed and toasted. 

roasted cauliflower with spices and garlic

Cauliflower Recipes

Paris Food Guide

From the kitchen